CASPER – Cody was so committed to stopping Cheyenne East’s high-scoring guards that it often left the low block unguarded Saturday afternoon.

At first the pressure frustrated the Lady Thunderbirds. Then they adjusted and exploited the opening during a 52-37 victory on the Wyoming Class 4A state girls basketball championship at the Wyoming Center in Casper.

Senior forward Ashley Marshall came off the bench to score all 10 of her points during the first half. Most came from the block.

“Cody was helping a little too much, and that left me wide-open underneath the basket a lot,” said Marshall, who also grabbed six rebounds. “We didn’t really know what to expect from them coming in because we hadn’t played them before, but our guards and our coaches saw what they were leaving open and did a good job of adjusting and taking advantage of that.”

The guards don’t deserve all the credit, sophomore Boden Liljedahl said.

“Ashley did such a good job of finding the soft spot, getting there so we could make that pass and then making the shots,” she said.

Marshall only reached double figures in scoring a handful of times this season, but she has always been capable of it, East coach Eric Westling said.

“She’s my wild card because I never know when she is going to have a big game but, when she gets going, she’s a load,” he said. “She has had a couple games where she gets going and it’s really hard to stop her.”

East took the lead by outscoring the Fillies 9-0 over the final 7 minutes, 7 seconds of the first quarter. Torrie Schutzman ended the drought with a 3-pointer from the left corner early in the second.

“We didn’t need to change anything defensively, we just needed to keep playing super aggressive like we always do,” Marshall said.

The T-Birds held a 27-13 halftime lead, and a 37-20 advantage after three quarters.

Cody (18-6) outscored East 15-6 during a 4-minute, 41-second stretch in the fourth quarter to cut the lead to 45-35. Westling called a timeout late in that stretch to remind the T-Birds of the core offensive tenets that helped them build their lead.

“He told us we needed to stop taking quick shots and get back to finding the best shots,” Liljedahl said. “We never really panicked when they were cutting into the lead, but we were rushing shots.”

The T-Birds were steady throughout the game, shooting 40% (10 of 25) in the opening half, and 38.1% (8 of 21) in the second.

Liljedahl led all scorers with 17 points. East also got eight points from Cheyenna Alvarado and seven from Ruby Jacobsen. Sophomore forward Elysiana Fonseca grabbed a game-best seven rebounds.

“I’m so proud of our team because they have each other’s backs,” Westling said. “When one kid needs a pick up, the other kids are there to step up. That was evident again (Saturday). I’m so proud of this team because it is a complete team.”

Cody was led by Schutzman, who netted 13. She was 4 of 8 from behind the 3-points line, and also grabbed five rebounds.

EAST 52, CODY 37

Cody…… 3 10 7 17 – 37

Cheyenne East…… 12 14 11 15 – 52

Cody: Hays 4-9 4-4 12, Boysen 1-3 1-2 3, Meier 0-0 0-0 0, K. Niemann 2-9 1-3 5, Radakovich 0-2 0-0 0, Lynn 0-1 0-0 0, Bower 0-0 4-10 4, Schutzman 4-12 1-2 13, R. Niemann 0-2 0-0 0. Totals: 11-38 11-21 37.

Cheyenne East: R. Jacobsen 2-4 2-4 7, B. Schlabs 0-3 1-2 1, E. Jacobsen 2-4 0-0 5, C. Alvarado 2-8 4-4 8, White 0-0 0-0 0, Kaufman 0-0 0-0 0, Jardine 1-2 0-0 2, Mauthe 0-0 0-0 0, Fonseca 1-2 0-0 2, Liljedahl 5-14 4-4 17, A. Marshall 5-9 0-0 10, Walsh 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 18-46 11-14 52.

3-pointers: Cody 4-13 (Hays 0-1, K. Niemann 0-3, Lynn 0-1, Schutzman 4-8); CE 5-17 (R. Jacobsen 1-2, B. Schlabs 0-3, E. Jacobsen 1-1, C. Alvarado 0-1, Liljedahl 3-9, A. Marshall 0-1). Rebounds: Cody 34 (Three with 5); CE 31 (Fonseca 7). Assists: Cody 5 (Hays 2); CE 11 (B. Schlabs 3, E. Jacobsen 3). Turnovers: Cody 17 (Schutzman 5); CE 10 (Three with 2). Steals: Cody 7 (K. Niemann 3); CE 11 (B. Schlabs 4). Blocked shots: Cody 1 (Boysen); CE 1 (C. Alvarado). Team fouls: Cody 17, East 18. Fouled out: Cody 1 (Hays).

Jeremiah Johnke is the WyoSports editor. He can be reached at jjohnke@wyosports.net or 307-633-3137. Follow him on Twitter at @jjohnke.

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